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Why did Aegon the Conqueror didn't have more children?

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How come Aegon the Conqueror only had two children? These were born relatively late; Aenys was born when Aegon was 34, and Maegor when he was nearly 40. Compare with Ned Stark who had five children (six if you count Jon) by the same age. It just seems unwise, since Aenys was a weak heir whose parentage was disputed, and Maegor was a psychopathic monster.

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Well, my theory on that - which I think has gained some popularity over the years - is that Aegon I was sterile and his two sons are not, in fact, his children at all. Aenys would be the child of some singer (there is that funny reference in FaB telling us he was a fine singer himself), and Maegor, considering that Visenya is a reputed sorceress, the result of spell (possibly a male clone of Visenya herself, considering the fact that George used that very plot device in his 'Nightflyers' novella).

There are other subtle clues as well - Sharra Arryn offering Aegon her hand in marriage if she named her son Ronnel his heir, indicating she was very aware of the fact that he lacked an heir, the fact that Aenys seems to be a more extreme version of Rhaenys while Maegor is clearly a more extreme version of Visenya (both have little in common with their alleged father).

There is also the fact to consider that there is no talk about either Rhaenys or Visenya ever having other unsuccessful pregnancies - no miscarriages, stillbirths, or infants that died in the cradle are recorded for either of the Conqueror's sister-wives. And then there is the fact that they must have been married for years, possibly even a decade by the time Conquest started. Aegon was in his mid-twenties by then, and if we take the standard Targaryen age for marriage then we can reasonably expect that Aegon married when he was about 15-16 or so. Which means it would have taken them nearly twenty years to produce Aenys and even longer to make Maegor.

That is very hard to swallow.

In fact, I find it a pity that there weren't other children - even if we acknowledge that George did not want Aenys and Maegor to have sisters to marry so the Faith Militant Uprising could be postponed until Aenys' reign, there wouldn't have been any harm in them having a little brother - or perhaps even more than just one brother.

Even more interesting could have been an older sister - say, a daughter of Rhaenys or Visenya born years before the Conquest who was never considered as bride for either Aenys or Maegor because she was married off to, say, Aethan Velaryon around 5 AC or so. Even if such a daughter were unwed by the time Aenys was born in 7 AC she would never be considered as his bride if she were around sixteen at that time.

If Aenys and Maegor had been born around or even before the Conquest - which was actually what I thought would be the case back before we had birth dates for either of them, considering we knew Aegon and his sisters were already married when they conquered Westeros - then they could also have had much younger sisters who were then not considered to be married to them (and that could have meant that, perhaps Orys Baratheon's heir could have been married to a daughter of the Conqueror).

It was also rather unpleasant that Aenys didn't have any children but Jaehaerys and Alysanne survive Maegor as well as the fact that Maegor left no children at all. There could have been sons, daughters, and some acknowledged bastards. After all, Maegor was a usurper who was eventually toppled. Any children of his may have simply not been allowed to succeed to the throne. And a son of his could have become a maester, septon, black brother, or even a Kingsguard.

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It happens. Sometimes it takes a couple many years to have a child, and then they may only be able to have one or two. I don't think there is anything to the idea that Aegon I couldn't have children. And just because we haven't heard of any prior failed pregnancies doesn't tell us there weren't any.

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3 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

It happens. Sometimes it takes a couple many years to have a child, and then they may only be able to have one or two. I don't think there is anything to the idea that Aegon I couldn't have children. And just because we haven't heard of any prior failed pregnancies doesn't tell us there weren't any.

A couple? Sure. Two couples? That's odd. Even if Aegon was not sterile, the quality of his semen cannot have been that good. But even if Aegon technically could father children - this doesn't prove that either Aenys or Maegor are his children.

And it certainly is noteworthy that no miscarriages, stillbirths or dead children in the cradle are recorded for Aegon the Conqueror and his sister-wives. After all, we have a history on his reign, and we can assume that the most noteworthy events of his reign were recorded therein, and we know from the other reigns that dead children and stillbirths are seen as noteworthy events that were recorded for other kings.

It makes little sense to assume there may have been pregnancies where none are recorded, else we could just pretend Alysanne had, say, five miscarriages in addition to her successful pregnancies, or that Aemon got Jocelyn pregnant half a dozen times but only Rhaenys survived in the end. But we have no reason to do that.

The author clearly framed the story of the Conqueror and his sons in a way that makes it not unlikely that he is not their father. Had he wanted to make it crystal clear that Aegon was their father he could have done that, too - as he did for many other Targaryens and their children. We are not given any hints that Aenys' children, Aerea and Rhaella, Jaehaerys I's many children, Rhaenys, Viserys, Daemon, Alicent's children, Rhaenyra's sons by Daemon, or Aegon II's children were not fathered by the men who are recorded as their father.

But the case of the sons of the Dragon is different.

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4 minutes ago, Arthur Peres said:

What was the age gap between Visenya Aegon and Rhaenys?

At 1 AC, they were 29, 27 and 24.

Note how Fire and Blood defines its scope. Starting abruptly at when Aegon got the alliance/marriage offer from Argilac that provoked the Conquest.

The years immediately before are declared as a matter of rumour. For some reason, these are rumours that were not confirmed as soon as Aegon became a person of importance and sometimes showed himself in public.

Aerion and Valaena are bare names. We never hear how old Aegon was when Aerion died and Aegon became his own master. We never hear if Valaena outlived Aerion to live with her son as Lord, and then how long. The one thing we do hear is that Aegon mounted Balerion before marrying his sisters.

Considering the lack of coverage where coverage should be expected, we cannot rule out Aegon&Sisters having had miscarriages, stillbirths or infant deaths in their teens or early twenties as "nobodies" on Dragonstone.

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1 hour ago, Arthur Peres said:

What was the age gap between Visenya Aegon and Rhaenys?

FaB confirms Visenya was two years older than Aegon. The age gap between him and Rhaenys is not confirmed in writing, but George spoke about an age gap of 1-2 years between all three siblings before (which is only confirmed to be two years for Visenya-Aegon).

2 hours ago, Jaak said:

The one thing we do hear is that Aegon mounted Balerion before marrying his sisters.

We hear all of them were dragonlords before they wed, not just Aegon.

2 hours ago, Jaak said:

Considering the lack of coverage where coverage should be expected, we cannot rule out Aegon&Sisters having had miscarriages, stillbirths or infant deaths in their teens or early twenties as "nobodies" on Dragonstone.

One could try to make such a case for Rhaenys but not Visenya. Some people believe she is barren in 11 AC, and at court people would have known whether Visenya Targaryen had been pregnant before during her marriage be it before or after the Conquest.

But speculation that Rhaenys and/or Visenya had any pregnancies besides those who led to the births of Aenys and Maegor during and after the Conquest (a period of nine years for Aenys and fourteen years for Maegor) is uncalled for. Things that happened after the Conquest would have been mentioned.

Else we could just arbitrarily assign additional unsuccessful pregnancies to any Targaryen woman/wife we don't get detailed coverage.

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Interesting theories but I think that they are far fetched. I think the simple truth is the actual truth. 

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I guess I would have expected Aegon, Rhaenys and Visenya to have at least one child if not more by the time the Conquest began.

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Infertility trouble happens in the real world also. In Britain, King George VI and his wife Elizabeth the Queen Mother had only 2 children, both daughters. The history of British royalty is plagued with childlessness, and long successions of stillbirths and neonatal deaths. It happened with George IV and his successor and brother William IV. Henry VIII for all his 6 wives only had three surviving children, and all 3 died childless. And British royalty never married kin closer than cousins. After Queen Anne died with no surviving offspring, the country had to look in Hanover in Germany to find an heir (George I). And we in the real world had no "blood of the dragon" to have to preserve. Historians in former times sometimes blamed venereal disease; but, thinking more cleanly, it may have been incompatibility between the husband's genes and the wife's mitochondrial DNA's genes.

 

Edited by Anthony Appleyard

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3 minutes ago, Anthony Appleyard said:

Infertility trouble happens in the real world also. In Britain, King George VI and his wife Elizabeth the Queen Mother had only 2 children, both daughters. The history of British royalty is plagued with childlessness, and long successions of stillbirths and neonatal deaths. Iit happened with George IV and his successor and brother William IV. Henry VIII for all his 6 wives only had three surviving children, and all 3 died childless. And British royalty never married kin closer than cousins. After Queen Anne died with no surviving offspring, the country had to look in Hanover in Germany to find an heir (George I). And we in the real world had no "blood of the dragon" to have to preserve. Historians in former times sometimes blamed venereal disease; but, thinking more cleanly, it may have been incompatibility between the husband's genes and the wife's mitochondrial DNA's genes.

Sure, but Aegon I had two wives. There were certainly Targaryen women with fertility problems, just as there were Targaryen men who had them (most notably Maegor the Cruel) but there were also such who very fertile, both male (Aegon IV, Daemon Blackfyre, Aenys, Jaehaerys I, Aegon III, Maekar, Aegon V) and female (Alysanne, Rhaenyra, Rhaena, Elaena) so it is odd that both Visenya and Rhaenys failed in that department.

Chances that the issue lay with Aegon rather than them is much higher than if Aegon I had had only one wife.

And as I said, the fact that Visenya was perceived as 'perhaps barren' in 10-11 AC implies that for her there is no unsuccessful pregnancy recorded - not even for the contemporaries at court at the time.

Chances are pretty high that Rhaenys wasn't impregnated by her brother-husband, and if he failed to quicken Rhaenys' womb, then chances are that the much much older Visenya also may have been forced to take matters in her own hands to finally produce an heir.

There would be no room for such theories if George had given as long and said a story of failed pregnancies for Aegon and his sister-wives as he gave us for Aerys II and Rhaella.

But this certainly doesn't mean that we have to imagine Rhaenys and Visenya as very fertile - they may have issues, too, but the main problem would have been Aegon, one assumes, not his sister-wives.

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Did any courtiers suspect Visenya of being maid rather than barren?

Aegon visibly spent 1 night with Visenya for 10 he spent with Rhaenys. Sure, there were those 1/11 of nights in Visenya´s bedroom. But were the courtiers/servants intimate enough with the king to confirm what he did there besides sleeping?

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2 hours ago, Jaak said:

Did any courtiers suspect Visenya of being maid rather than barren?

Apparently not.

2 hours ago, Jaak said:

Aegon visibly spent 1 night with Visenya for 10 he spent with Rhaenys. Sure, there were those 1/11 of nights in Visenya´s bedroom. But were the courtiers/servants intimate enough with the king to confirm what he did there besides sleeping?

I don't think Aegon the Conqueror would have survived as long as he did if he had actually refused to deflower Visenya...

Not to mention that he could just as well have never consummated his marriage to Rhaenys, either. After all, we also seem to have no proof that they had sex, either.

Even if Maegor was Aegon's biological son - and that's a big if - I doubt Aegon and Visenya had a lot of sex after Rhaenys' death. They were starting to grow old by then, and we do know Visenya and Maegor rarely, if at all, accompanied the Conqueror on his progresses. It also seems rather likely Visenya spent time on Dragonstone when Aegon was in KL and vice versa. They would have been together when reasons of state and important political matters demanded it, but it seems neither their marriage bond nor their bond as siblings was very intimate to put it mildly.

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I will say that the text definitely leaves open the possibility that the dragon is infertile, at least to a degree. Whether it's from centuries of inbreeding or simply plot convenience one can not truly say, but I definitely agree with Lord Varys in that it's a definite possibility(I say at least 50/50 chance) that neither Aenys or Meagor are the trueborn sons of the Conquerer.

Nothing is overtly claimed, but this could be due to FaB being an in universe book written by someone with a Targ bias. Or It could be nothing.

I lean towards something though.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Back door hodor said:

Nothing is overtly claimed, but this could be due to FaB being an in universe book written by someone with a Targ bias. Or It could be nothing.

I lean towards something though.

Well, the conceptual reason behind this would be to make Aegon's sons a successful mirror image of Cersei's children. One of the crucial themes of ASoIaF are the identity problems of royal children (Robert's children - both legal and illegitimate do, in part, not know who they are, Jon Snow, Aegon, possibly Tyrion, etc.).

Not to mention the inherent dullness if one assumes that Cersei was the first queen to successfully cuckold her king and put some mailman's children in his basket.

The difference here would be that Aegon's sister-wives - having severe fertility problems - did look for sperm donors and other means to create children (magic, in Visenya's case, perhaps) with Aegon's knowledge and moral support, unlike Cersei or Naerys (if she ever had an affair with the Dragonknight which I don't buy at this point).

Aegon and his sister-wives would have known that they were in desperate need of heirs. Without a proper heir - i.e. a son or at least a daughter they would risk losing everything they gained in old age. Sure, they could try to hand the Seven Kingdoms to Orys Baratheon's children or some Velaryon cousin, but that would be much more difficult.

Aegon and Rhaenys would have tried really, really hard for years and years, and then, in 6-7 AC they would have decided that it didn't work and that Rhaenys would have to take another road (enter some blond and blue-eyed singer). And Visenya would have used magic or whatever she did to get pregnant in 11 AC because, in the wake of Rhaenys' death and the great risk that Aenys might die soon, having not reacted well to his mother's death (not to mention the constant danger they were in due to the Dornish assassins which could quickly end the Targaryen dynasty for good and all), the dynasty was really in danger - and her own position as queen. Because if she were not give birth to a child soon then Aegon's lords and knights might get their wish and finally convince him to take another wife, supplanting her as queen and possibly give Aegon the child she could not bear him (if it turned out that she and Rhaenys were actually the defective ones in the procreation department not (so much) Aegon). That was a risk Visenya could not take - for both very selfish reasons as well as to ensure the continuation of her dynasty and bloodline. And that's how she created Maegor.

Rhaenyra would have had a similar arrangement with Laenor, if he wasn't the father of her sons. They both needed heirs to continue the royal bloodline, but they really seem to have had little to no inclination to actually have sex with each other. So you use other means to get children.

Those people who think that just because history tells us Aegon had two sons doesn't make it so. And thanks to the fact that Rhaenys was Aegon's sister this doesn't really make Aenys' children any less Targaryen insofar as 'the magical blood of the dragon' is concerned. Magical blood doesn't care about the male line or the female line or whether a child is born in wedlock or outside of the marriage bed. It would certainly be odd if Dany and her parents and grandparents had only be Targaryen in name, having no biological relation to Aegon the Concqueror and Aenar the Exile and all their ancestors in Old Valyria - but this isn't the case. The only that changed is that Aegon the Conqueror is now merely Dany's great-great-...-grand-uncle, not her great-great-...-grandfather (which he always was, anyway, due to the incest thing, so nothing really changed there).

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6 hours ago, dsjj251 said:

My personal theory is that Aerion wanted his children to marry other people,  So they didnt get married till after he died. 

There is no reason to assume anything of that. It is not impossible, of course, but it would be very strange considering that we do know all of Aerion's children were dragonlords by the time of their wedding, meaning Aerion would have allowed other houses/people to acquire Vhagar and Meraxes had he actually intended to marry his daughters outside the family.

Also, we have no idea when Lord Aerion died, whether he even lived to see his children grow up. Aegon was already Lord of Dragonstone when he fought against the Volantenes and it seems his and Visenya's visits to the Arbor and Oldtown and possibly even Lannisport happened at a time when he was a lord as well (there is no talk about them being fostered elsewhere by their father).

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On 10/30/2019 at 1:05 PM, Lord Varys said:

Well, my theory on that - which I think has gained some popularity over the years - is that Aegon I was sterile and his two sons are not, in fact, his children at all. Aenys would be the child of some singer (there is that funny reference in FaB telling us he was a fine singer himself), and Maegor, considering that Visenya is a reputed sorceress, the result of spell (possibly a male clone of Visenya herself, considering the fact that George used that very plot device in his 'Nightflyers' novella).

There are other subtle clues as well - Sharra Arryn offering Aegon her hand in marriage if she named her son Ronnel his heir, indicating she was very aware of the fact that he lacked an heir, the fact that Aenys seems to be a more extreme version of Rhaenys while Maegor is clearly a more extreme version of Visenya (both have little in common with their alleged father).

There is also the fact to consider that there is no talk about either Rhaenys or Visenya ever having other unsuccessful pregnancies - no miscarriages, stillbirths, or infants that died in the cradle are recorded for either of the Conqueror's sister-wives. And then there is the fact that they must have been married for years, possibly even a decade by the time Conquest started. Aegon was in his mid-twenties by then, and if we take the standard Targaryen age for marriage then we can reasonably expect that Aegon married when he was about 15-16 or so. Which means it would have taken them nearly twenty years to produce Aenys and even longer to make Maegor.

That is very hard to swallow.

In fact, I find it a pity that there weren't other children - even if we acknowledge that George did not want Aenys and Maegor to have sisters to marry so the Faith Militant Uprising could be postponed until Aenys' reign, there wouldn't have been any harm in them having a little brother - or perhaps even more than just one brother.

Even more interesting could have been an older sister - say, a daughter of Rhaenys or Visenya born years before the Conquest who was never considered as bride for either Aenys or Maegor because she was married off to, say, Aethan Velaryon around 5 AC or so. Even if such a daughter were unwed by the time Aenys was born in 7 AC she would never be considered as his bride if she were around sixteen at that time.

If Aenys and Maegor had been born around or even before the Conquest - which was actually what I thought would be the case back before we had birth dates for either of them, considering we knew Aegon and his sisters were already married when they conquered Westeros - then they could also have had much younger sisters who were then not considered to be married to them (and that could have meant that, perhaps Orys Baratheon's heir could have been married to a daughter of the Conqueror).

It was also rather unpleasant that Aenys didn't have any children but Jaehaerys and Alysanne survive Maegor as well as the fact that Maegor left no children at all. There could have been sons, daughters, and some acknowledged bastards. After all, Maegor was a usurper who was eventually toppled. Any children of his may have simply not been allowed to succeed to the throne. And a son of his could have become a maester, septon, black brother, or even a Kingsguard.

Lol, while I can't comment on who actually "owns" this theory, I admire your chutzpah. :bowdown:

But I've always wondered as well whether the truth of Aenys' paternity in particular became known to the Dornish, and they had some way of proving it, which was then relayed to Aegon in a certain letter . . . 

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2 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

Lol, while I can't comment on who actually "owns" this theory, I admire your chutzpah. :bowdown:

Well, I came up with that in my report on TSotD reading, a couple of months before TWoIaF came out. I'm not sure anyone could beat me on that one (Ran and Linda aside, but they don't seem to care much about that one).

And in fact I hadn't yet read 'Nightflyers' back then - which actually has George using the idea of a weirdo woman creating a male close of herself, lacking a father -, I was just going with the 'Aenys is a bastard' idea which is tossed around by Gyldayn, and noting that there is something strange about Visenya suddenly announcing her pregnancy when she and House Targaryen in general are not exactly in a good position, and claiming it is going to be a boy before the birth. Combined with the sorcery rumors about her (which are curiously without examples, unlike, say, the rumor that Tyanna was a sorceress - who at least has Maegor's miracle recovery to her credit, and possibly the discovery of Rhaena's daughters and the monstrosities Maegor's wives produced) which were very surprising for a woman we had previously known as a warrior, not an alleged sorceress, this is a pretty good case.

The original idea was that magic may have helped Visenya to make Aegon's semen viable or something along those lines, but the idea that both she and Rhaenys actually got pregnant without any help/input from Aegon works much better, in my opinion. And George clearly is not unfamiliar with this concept.

2 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

But I've always wondered as well whether the truth of Aenys' paternity in particular became known to the Dornish, and they had some way of proving it, which was then relayed to Aegon in a certain letter . . . 

I don't think that would have mattered to anyone. By that time Aenys was much healthier and had already gotten his dragon and was the Heir Apparent to the Iron Throne. And how on earth could something like that be 'proven'? Rhaenys would have been tortured, and anything she signed or claimed could be dismissed out of hand. The Lannister regime also doesn't collapse because Stannis writes some letters.

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